7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In Ye Olden Days - Thanksgiving in Early America

By our newest Quiller: Elaine Marie Cooper


Thanksgiving in Early America


   When we sit down at our Thanksgiving meal this month, we’ll be recreating a celebration that is as old as our country: sharing food with loved ones while thanking the God Who has provided the abundance.
   While we understand that the First Thanksgiving was celebrated here by the Mayflower survivors along with the Indians that had helped them, the first official proclamation that was decreed to celebrate such a holiday was in 1777. It was a recommendation to the thirteen states by the Continental Congress to set aside December 18th that year as a “solemn thanksgiving” to celebrate the first major victory for the Continental troops in the American Revolution: the Battle of Saratoga.
   The Battle of Saratoga has significant interest for my own family since one of my ancestors was a soldier there. But he was not on the American side—he was a British Redcoat. After surrendering to the Americans, he escaped the line of prisoners and somehow made his way to Massachusetts and into the life and heart of my fourth great-grandmother. *SIGH* L’amour!
   This family story was the inspiration for my Deer Run Saga that begins in 1777 with The Road to Deer Run. There is an elaborate Thanksgiving meal scene in this novel as well as in the sequel, The Promise of Deer Run.
   Some may wonder why such detail was afforded this holiday in my novels set in Massachusetts, while Christmas is barely mentioned. The reason is simple: Thanksgiving was the major holiday in the northern colonies, with Christmas considered nothing more special than a workday. According to Jack Larkin in his book, The Reshaping of Everyday Life, “The Puritan founders of New England and the Quaker settlers of Pennsylvania had deliberately abolished (holidays) as unscriptural.”
   But Thanksgiving was begun as a way to give thanks to God for His provision. It usually began with attending church services in the morning, followed by an elaborate feast in the afternoon. The food for this meal was prepared for weeks in advance.
   Since the individual state governors chose their own date to celebrate the holiday, it was theoretically possible for some family members—if they lived in close proximity—to celebrate multiple Thanksgiving meals with family and friends across state borders. The dates chosen could be anywhere from October to December, according to Dennis Picard, Director of the Storrowton Village Museum in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
Dennis Picard, Director of Storrowton Village Museum, West Springfield, Massachusetts

 Chicken was most commonly served, said Picard, as it was readily available in the barnyard. And the oldest woman in the home had the honor of slicing the fowl for dinner.
   Pies were made well in advance of the holiday and stored and became frozen in dresser drawers in unheated rooms.  
“I like the idea of pulling out a dresser drawer for, say, a clean pair of socks, and finding mince pies,” said Picard, tongue in cheek.
   Have a BLESSED Thanksgiving!
Bio:  Introducing a new member of the Colonial Quills Blogging Team - Elaine Cooper.  Welcome Elaine!  We are Thankful for you and Blessed that you have joined us!  


  1. Wonderful post, Elaine! I'm doing a Thanksgiving remembrance post on my blog today (whenever I get it up . . .) and will link to this!

  2. Oh, love the frozen pie in drawers! I forget, being a southerner, that by Thanksgiving time it was shiveringly cold in the east. I learn new things even on another reading of wonderful post, Elaine. God bless you!

  3. Welcome Andes thank you for the great post, Elaine. Some of my family lives in west sprgfld and I'd love to visit that museum sometime.

  4. Don't know why my kindle has a mind of its own and speller andes...meant to say "and".

  5. Happy Thanksgiving, Quillers! You all are such a blessing to me! So glad to welcome Elaine onboard with us! Thanks for sharing this, Elaine.

  6. Thank you, Ladies, for the warm welcome! Carla,you would love Storrowton. If you call ahead and tell Dennis your research needs, he will give you a guided tour! It was lovely! And it is so lovely to be a part of CQ! I am honored and I wish you all a MOST blessed Thanksgiving!

  7. Elaine, I'm catching up on posts this weekend. This was fun and informative. I like the idea of a different Thanksgiving Day in every state/colony. I'm looking forward to reading your books!


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